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Roman de la Rose.

Roman de la Rose ("Romance of the Rose") One of the most popular French poems of the late medieval period of European history.

Modeled on Ovid's Ars amatoria (c. 1 BC; Art of Love) and rooted in Andre le Chapelain's treatise on courtly love, the poem is composed of more than 21,000 lines of octosyllabic couplets and survives in more than 300 manuscripts. Nothing is known of the author of the first 4,058 lines except his name, GUILLAUME DE LORRIS . This section, which was written about 1230, is a charming dream allegory of the wooing of a maiden, symbolized by a rosebud, within the bounds of a garden, representing courtly society. It is one of the finer examples of allegorical literature, rising above the requisite didacticism of the genre.

No satisfactory conclusion was written until about 1280, when JEAN DE MEUN seized upon the original plot as a means of conveying a vast mass of encyclopedic information and opinions on a great variety of contemporary topics. At various times he relates the history of classical heroes, attacks the hoarding of money, and theorizes about astronomy. The original theme is frequently obscured for thousands of lines while the characters discourse at length. It was these digressions that secured the poem its fame and success, for Jean de Meun was writing from a bourgeois point of view that gradually superseded the aristocratic code of Guillaume de Lorris.

A Middle English version, of which the first 1,705 lines are translated by Geoffrey Chaucer, covers all of Guillaume de Lorris's section and 3,000 lines of Jean de Meun's. The original Roman was the single most important literary influence on Chaucer's writings.

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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